[Ongoing series of blog posts to inform
potential developers, users and (hopefully investors) about this new app
ecosystem I am architecting, designing, developing and deploying. More details
at this page]
An ecosystem is worthless if people cannot use it on the
platform of their choice. A few years ago (like say 2 years ago) deciding on
the supporting end user platforms was tricky. The major platforms were windows
desktop, windows touch enabled stuff – windows 8 and windows 10, then there was
windows phone, the web browser on desktop, the web browser on mobiles, the web
browser on tablets, and then of course android on phone, android on tablet and
lastly, ios on phone and ios on tablets.
Phew! That is a lot of platforms. That would drive any
developer crazy! It sure did drive me crazy.
Today, and during the year in which this blog post was
written, I would say the tech revolution has reached its satisfactory
conclusion. That’s good because, now things are simpler. As I continue my work
on project TD, I must confess that life is a lot simpler now. With that
knowledge, I know now that to reach to the widest audience, I only have to
reach out to the following three platforms – Web Browser on desktop, android on
phone, and iOS on phone.
Web Browser on desktop
At the end of the day, any machine with a keyboard plugged
into it can run a web browser. I recently wrote
about the appeal of web development. Web browsers have reached that maturity
where they can support full-fledged applications. They also work well with
touch enabled devices. A few years ago, I would have no choice but to build a
traditional windows desktop application, the touch enabled and so called
‘modern’ or ‘metro’ apps for windows 8 / windows 10, and do the same for Mac
Now, I don’t need to target any of these desktop platforms
with native apps. The browser based app will take care of all this. Imagine the
amount of effort I am able to save here. More importantly, we are now entering
an era where a lot of people no longer think running applications in a browser
is odd or weird. For someone who grew up in the 90s and early 00s, not using
native desktop applications is odd. However, for those who grew up in the late
00s and onwards, using web app comes naturally. That means, having zero native
apps will not hurt my ecosystem if it should go wide.
Android and iOS on phone
Intentionally, I have decided to leave out tablets entirely
out of the picture. Perhaps, five years ago, we thoughts that tablets might go
mainstream and even replace PCs and smartphones. Unfortunately, that did not
happen, and I pretty much concluded my own observations in this
post. Just this morning, I found out that the iPad version of the Instagram
app is but a blown up iPhone app. This does not imply that a large company such
as Instagram is lazy. On the contrary, it is a reflection of reality. Tablets
are not a major platform and any time/money spent on it is not going to give
Besides, phones have been getting bigger and have become
ubiquitous. Thanks to improving infrastructure, it is not that expensive to
download apps anymore. Phones also have better SD card support now, and most of
them come with decent onboard storage as well. All in all, the mobile platforms
have achieved a certain maturity which I should exploit.
Previously, I was of the opinion that I don’t wish to touch
iOS. I assumed that developing for the apple platform can be pretty expensive.
I also assumed that there are very few iPhones running around. However, I
re-did some research, and see if perhaps the passage of time has changed the
situation. I found out that at least some things have changed. A cheap Mac and
a cheap iPhone can be obtained at prices slightly more than android development
gear. The developer license continues to be expensive but that is a business
cost. Further, I noticed that there are a small chunk of folks who are indeed
using the older generation iPhones such as the 5c and 6, so perhaps there is
indeed a user base to target.
All things considered, I decided that when it comes to
mobile, I should target both android and iOS.
While I am writing about this, I must also mention the state
of mobile optimization of the web apps, which are anyway being developed. I
would say no. I am not going to go out of my way to optimize the above
mentioned web apps to work on the small screen. Folks who want to use the site
on their mobile browser should simply install the available mobile apps. Either
that or live with poorly optimized web app. That, I am afraid, would be there
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